Shadowdark looks so good!


The Moldvay Basic set is a disaster, not particularly better organized than the OD&D booklets.
Those are fighting words!

Moldvay basic is really easy to understand, from my perspective and recollection of learning the game based on that very book. The introduction was great. It might not be the best presentation now, but compared to the OD&D books? Miles apart. As an experienced gamer adult, I couldn't use the OD&D books to run a game. Way too many gaps and missing information.

B/X was succinct, and broken down into easily digestible sections. I was 8 in 1981 when I got that book, and I recall that it was pretty easy to learn as an 8 year old kid. All you needed to read is in the first 10 pages. Modern design takes 10 pages just telling you what the game is about ;)

Edit based on your link, I think you meant to say Holmes Basic, and not Moldvay. In that case, I do largely agree with you. Holmes basic was a lot better than OD&D, but still not user friendly at all.

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Oops, you're right. I do mean Holmes.

Man, there were a lot of Basic D&D versions.
Oh, this makes more sense! Holmes was closer to OD&D. And it was a fan project:

‘Basic’ refers to the Dungeons and Dragons Basic rules set. The first D&D basic set was created in 1977 by Eric Holmes, a freelance game designer who created the rules set so that his children could learn to play the game. He then enquired with TSR if he could make it into an official rules set for the game, which they agreed to but shamefully paid him nothing for.

I do like the Holmes alignment chart:

Holmes Alignment.jpg



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Just a dude with a shovel, looking for the past.
One of my friends made the comment "Shadowdark is what you get if you order DCC from wish". Is he wrong? Feels very thin when I looked at it. But the creator seems very inteligent and passionate about it, so theres that. Maybe it needs a few expansion packs...

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One of my friends made the comment "Shadowdark is what you get if you order DCC from wish". Is he wrong? Feels very thin when I looked at it. But the creator seems very inteligent and passionate about it, so theres that. Maybe it needs a few expansion packs...
They're extremely different games, attempting to do different things.

DCC is a game leaning hard into the gonzo flavor of early D&D (a famous early Dragon magazine, or maybe its precuror, The Strategic Review, featured D&D heroes fighting Nazis in tanks), including going with even more crazy dice than most RPGs use, more randomization in play, including rolling on tables to see what spells do each time they're cast, and a philosophy that every monster is a new and unique one. Play is famously brutal and random, with a ton of sword and sorcery flavor and, if played from level 0, as intended, there's a ton of player character death along the way. Goodman Games is a long-established adventure publisher with a very specific flavor of early TSR adventures, stopping before Dragonlance, and the DCC line is all about that tone.

Shadowdark is a 5E D&D chassis with everything that's not delivering an OSR experience chopped away. It runs faster and quicker, with systems that will be familiar to 5E players when they sit down and play. The randomization is mostly on the side of character generation (characters of the same class will typically have different abilities, because they roll randomly for what they get on a class table) and in adventure generation. It has an explicit horror vibe mixed in, and many of the artists in the book are actually from the black metal scene, further giving it a darker and grimmer vibe than the splatterpunk vibe that DCC gets in its darkest moments.

I think your friend is misunderstanding what one of the two games is doing.
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There's honestly a funny aspect to this in that, as a small child who got my first Basic Set in 1981 (and mine WAS Moldvay - pictured upper left), but had already played White Box D&D at the home of an overly slightly older neighbor, one of the things that I never quite got about Basic was Races as Classes. It bugged me then, and it's one of the things that has kept me from embracing most of the OSR clones. Well, that, and tables. Too. Many. Tables.

It's actually one of the things I very much appreciate about Kelsey's work on Shadowdark. It feels like someone went back and made an actual Third Edition of just Dungeons & Dragons (no BECMI, no "Advanced"), following the White Box (1974), and the Holmes Basic Set, but cleaned it up and modernized it.

(I took the above picture when WotC released the Essentials Red Box. It's my "I have D&D history" street cred pic).

Race-as-class is a sticking point for a lot of people, certainly. I think the reason it was done is that the Basic sets were aimed at children, and it's more simple to just have all your information in one place. Certainly I've found this to be the case running Old School Essentials, where each class is a two page spread, easy to print out or send to players. Oddly, what really got me on board with race-as-class was Mork Borg, where each class is just its own thing; I liked both the simplicity and thematic focus of that.


I think a lot of race-as-class objections could be handled by not calling them just "dwarf" or "elf," but "dwarven tunnel warrior" or something. The later GAZ series added additional classes to, I think, all of the BCEMI races, so this happened retroactively.
I dunno. Maybe. I was a weird kid who hated cliches and I was like: "So Humans get to pick, but if I want to be an Elf, I'd be Elf? Or a Halfling? That seems weird."

But again, I wasn't a typical 9-year-old. We switched over to AD&D character creation once we got the PHB, but kept running the game with the Moldvay book, even after the DMG came out - that is, until I got my beloved Fighting Wheel. ;p

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